Wellswood Columbia LLC v. Town of Hebron
A plaintiff who possesses a state remedy, pursuant to Article 1, §11 of the Connecticut Constitution, for a takings claim, may be required to pursue that remedy, prior to commencing suit in District Court, alleging that the government took the plaintiff's property without adequate compensation. In or about 2005, the Hebron board of selectmen voted to close Wellswood Road and to barricade the road. It posted a sign that stated, "Road Closed Per Hebron Board of Selectmen." After the board of selectmen voted to close Wellswood Road, the plaintiff, Wellswood Columbia LLC, requested a court injunction, to prevent Hebron from closing the road, because Wellswood Columbia owns property, which Wellswood plans to develop for adult residential use, and Wellswood Road is required to access the public highway. The Connecticut Superior Court denied Wellswood Columbia's request for an injunction. The Connecticut Supreme Court reversed and found that the Town of Hebron acted in excess of its powers. Wellswood Columbia sued the Town of Hebron in District Court and requested damages for Hebron's decision to close the road. Wellswood Columbia claimed that the Town of Hebron took its property without just compensation, in violation of Wellswood's rights under the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. District courts routinely dismiss Fifth Amendment claims, if a plaintiff fails to use available state remedies to request just compensation. The District Court found that Article First, §11 of the Connecticut Constitution provides a state remedy for a takings claim, and that the plaintiff failed to establish the plaintiff previously request relief pursuant to Article First, §11. Because the plaintiff failed to follow available state procedures to request compensation in connection with a takings claim, wrote the District Court, the plaintiff's takings claim is not yet ripe for adjudication. The District Court dismissed the plaintiff's action, for lack of jurisdiction.